Herbal Tonics – What are They?

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on October 19, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH

Unlike a herbal “medicine,” which is usually taken to address a specific health concern and for a particular length of time, “herbal tonics” can be taken on a long-term basis, often for months or even years.

Their primary strength lies in their ability to help restore balance to areas of chronic deficiency and nourish, or tonify, the body, ongoing. They can even be considered similar to foods, in that respect.

Many tonic herbs are “adaptogens.” These are herbs which help our body to better adapt to stress. Stress is a known contributor to the aging process, in part because of its effects on chronic inflammation and chronic degenerative conditions.

Some of our most well-known adaptogen/tonic herbs include: the ginsengs (Asian, American), maca, ashwagandha, rhodiola, eleuthero, reishi and other mushrooms, schisandra berry, holy basil, fo-ti, bacopa, and licorice (though there are many others!). These can either directly support our own hormone production or provide hormone-like effects in the body, enhance our neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, and generally boost all of our body’s physical, including mental, processes.

Healing traditions such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine are renowned for their herbal tonics, used to maintain wellbeing and support healthy aging and longevity.

“Health is the greatest possession.”
~ Lao Tzu


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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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